The backlash surrounding Balenciaga’s recent ad campaigns involving children has remained strong as fans and celebrities continue to denounce the luxury brand.
The Spanish fashion house recently found itself embroiled in controversy over two recent ad campaigns. The first campaign, the designer’s gift collection campaign, was criticised for using children to model its teddy bear purses, after critics pointed out the bears appeared to be wearing BDSM and bondage-inspired accessories.
The second ad under scrutiny is Balenciaga’s Spring 2023 campaign, which featured a printout of a Supreme Court decision on child pornography and a book about Beligan artist Michaël Borremans, whose earlier work included depictions of castrated children.
In an attempt to address the fallout, Balenciaga has issued two statements regarding the since-removed campaigns. In the most recent, released on Monday, the brand said it “strongly condemned” child abuse while alleging it was never its intent to “include it in our narrative”.
Balenciaga also filed a lawsuit against the production company behind the Spring 2023 shoot.
The statements and legal complaint have done little to quell the intense reactions from the public over the ads, with many calling for a boycott of the luxury brand, while celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Nicole Kidman have been called on to cut ties with Balenciaga.
Kardashian, a longtime ambassador of the brand, ultimately announced in a statement shared to social media that she would be “re-evaluating” her relationship with Balenciaga moving forward, while her sister Kylie Jenner appeared to distance herself from the brand when she dismissed speculation that she and her famous family were “covering up” for Balenciaga with “calculated” social media posts.
For all the latest updates regarding the ongoing Balenciaga scandal, follow along below.
Everything we know about the scandal so far
Balenciaga takes action against production company
Kim Kardashian reevaluating relationship with brand
Photographer distances himself from campaign
18:27 , Chelsea Ritschel
While Business of Fashion will no longer honour Demna with the award, it noted in its statement that it has asked the “leadership at Balenciaga” to attend Voices to “take responsibility for releasing these images and offer an explanation”.
According to the fashion agency, Balenciaga declined the invitation. “They declined our invitation to speak at this time, but BoF remains open to having this important conversation,” the statement added.
18:16 , Chelsea Ritschel
Amid the ongoing fallout over Balenciaga’s recent campaigns, the Business of Fashion announced it will no longer be honouring the brand’s creative director Demna with its Global Voices award for 2022.
The fashion authority announced that Demna would be the recipient of the award earlier this year, however, it said in a 28 November statement that the honour had been revoked in light of Balenciaga’s controversial campaigns.
“Since its inception BoF VOICES has been a platform for important, honest and sometimes uncomfortable conversations that have helped to address key issues in the fashion industry head on,” the statement read. “At BoF, we hold the safety of children in the highest regard.
“And, like many, we have been seeking the truth about how children appeared with BDSM-inspired products in Balenciaga’s recent campaign imaages, which are wholly inconsistent with our values.
“As a result, we will not be presenting Demna with the Global Voices award this year.”
Kylie Jenner dismisses speculation she shared children’s photos to ‘cover up’ for Balenciaga
16:15 , Kate Ng
Kylie Jenner has hit back at accusations that she posted photos of her children to distract people from the Balenciaga conrtroversy.
The reality star shared rare pictures of her children, Stormi and her son whose name is unconfirmed, this week. But some social media users questioned her intentions amid the ongoing scandal and her sister Kim Kardashian’s close links to the luxury brand.
FInd out what she said below:
Demna Gvasalia said he ‘no longer’ has to think about ‘making the industry understand what I do'
15:30 , Kate Ng
Balenciaga’s creative director Demna Gvasalia said that the luxury brand is so popular that he does not feel the need to “make the industry understand what I do” in a podcast that was released several weeks before the current controversy.
The 41-year-old designer, who took over the fashion house in 2015, made the comments during an appearance on Intersections: The Art Basel podcast.
In the episode, released on 20 October, Demna said: “I no longer think about making the fashion industry understand what I do. I just do it. Whetehr I’m proud of it or not, it doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t have anybody to convince or explain things to. The only people I need to have a conversation with are the people who wear what I do and who understand what I do. And who appreciate it.”
He continued: “Since I started couture at Balenciaga, finally I found a position in this industry which is uncontested. I can just chill out and do what I truly believe in without thinking about business or media or commands about what other people think. All of that just evaporated.”
Street artist leaves graffiti on Balenciaga’s Bond Street store
14:46 , Kate Ng
A street artist has claimed he was responsible for graffiti left on the front of Balenciaga’s store on Bond Street.
Joe Bloggs, known by his artist name as The Average Man on the Street, told Newsweek he placed a vinyl sticker with the words “paedophilia” repeated twice on the glass display window of the store.
He was filmed by a TikTok user carrying out the defacement in a video captioned: “POV: you’re walking through central London enjoying the lights and see Balenciaga getting canceled.”
Bloggs told the publication he vandalised the store “due to the abhorrent photoshoots Balenciaga did”.
The Independent has contacted Balenciaga for comment.
13:00 , Chelsea Ritschel
Kanye West also made his opinion regarding the brand clear on Sunday, when he covered a designer logo on his rain boots with a sticker that read: “YE24.”
The rapper’s latest statement comes after he called out celebrities for remaining silent in the wake of the scandal.
10:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
Amid the ongoing backlash, many former customers have begun destroying their Balenciaga possessions.
One woman filmed herself cutting up a Balenciaga hoodie that retails for approximately $720.
07:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
Donald Trump Jr is the latest figure to weigh in on the scandal, with the son of the former president alleging that there is “more outrage” over Elon Musk’s handling of Twitter than Balenciaga.
Fashion thrives on backlash
06:52 , Kate Ng
As Balenciaga becomes the latest luxury label to become embroiled in controversy, Olivia Petter asks if big brands will ever learn from the errors of their ways.
Read about why the latest “child abuse” scandal won’t change the fact that the fashion industry thrives on backlash:
05:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
Renewed criticism over the campaign’s has focused largely on the inclusion of a book by Michaël Borremans.
In one photo from the brand’s Spring 2023 campaign, Isabelle Huppert sits in a Manhattan office in front of a pile of books.
However, as noted by critics of the ad, the Belgian artist’s earlier work included depictions of castrated children.
“There’s a book in one of Balenciaga‘s photos that’s written by Michaël Borremans, an artist who created “Fire from the Sun,” which is a series of paintings depicting naked toddlers,” one tweet reads.
04:00 , Chelsea Ritschel
Balenciaga has disabled comments under its most recent statement addressing the fallout, however, fans have continued to condemn the brand on social media.
“Balenciaga is very much cancelled in my eyes, I don’t care what explanation they come up with. Don’t mess with children,” one person tweeted.
02:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
Balenciaga has followed up on its promise to take legal action regarding its Spring 2023 campaign, with the brand filing a lawsuit against production company North Six Inc – and its agent, Nicholas Des Jardins.
In the complaint, the luxury fashion house accuses the defendants of engaging in “inexplicable acts and omissions” that were “malevolent or, at the very least, extraordinarily reckless”.
Balenciaga is seeking $25m in monetary damages.
01:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
As for photographer Gabriele Galimberti’s role in creating the Balenciaga campaign featuring children posing with plush bears, Balenciaga said it was taking the blame.
“This was a wrong choice by Balenciaga, combined with our failure in assessing and validating images,” the company wrote. “The responsibility for this lies with Balenciaga alone.”
The clarification comes after Balenciaga apologised for the campaign last week. “We sincerely apologise for any offense our holiday campaign may have caused,” the statement said “Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign. We have immediately removed the campaign from all platforms.”
Following the statement, the National Geographic photographer issued a statement of his own, in which he said he was “not entitled in whatsoever manner to neither chose [sic] the products, nor the models, nor the combination of the same”.
You can read Galimberti’s statement in full below.
00:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
As of now, the photographers behind Balenciaga’s Spring 2023 campaign have yet to comment on the backlash.
The photoshoot, which starred Bella Hadid, Nicole Kidman and Isabelle Huppert, was shot by Joshua Bright, while photographer Chris Maggio captured the still-life images of accessories, according to WWD.
The campaign sparked backlash over the inclusion of court documents relating to a Supreme Court decision on child pornography, and for featuring a book by a Belgian artist whose earlier work included depictions of castrated children.
Tuesday 29 November 2022 23:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
Jenner’s response comes as many fans have called on celebrities to publicly denounce the brand, while some have suggested that Kim Kardashian should have cut ties with the company over the scandal.
Candace Owens was among those criticising the Skims founder’s response as not being strong enough, with the conservative commentator claiming the reality star should have decided she was “done with Balenciaga”.
Tuesday 29 November 2022 22:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
Kylie Jenner has shut down a TikToker’s claim that she posted family photos to distract from the Balenciaga scandal after the Kylie Cosmetics star shared never-before-seen pictures of her and Travis Scott’s nine-month-old son.
Jenner denied the accusation in a TikTok comment, writing: “Uh whyyy would I post my child to cover up for Balenciaga?This is why I don’t do this. Always something to say.”
Tuesday 29 November 2022 21:22 , Chelsea Ritschel
In a statement released on Monday, Balenciaga said it “takes responsibility” for the “series of grievous errors” that led to the two campaigns being published and said the coompany would be “closely revising our organisation and collective ways of working” in light of the fallout.
Tuesday 29 November 2022 19:15 , Chelsea Ritschel
While celebrities and notable figures have spoken out against Balenciaga in light of the controverisal campaigns, not everyone who works with the brand has denounced the luxury designer.
Nicole Kidman, who features in the brand’s Spring 2023 campaign, has remained silent amid the backlash, prompting fans to call on her to denounce Balenciaga.
You can read more about the reactions below.
Tuesday 29 November 2022 18:30 , Chelsea Ritschel
Galimberti, who has 20 years of experience as a documentary photographer, is also afraid of the impact the backlash will have on his career, as he estimates that he’s already lost $10,000 in wages since the Balenciaga controversy, according to WWD.
The Balenciaga shoot marked his first assignment in the fashion industry.
Tuesday 29 November 2022 18:00 , Chelsea Ritschel
In the same interview with WWD, the Milan-based National Geographic photographer said he has been blamed for the controversy, and that he has been inundated with messages from people furious over his involvement.
According to Galimberti, who said he is concerned about his personal safety, “90 per cent” of the messages have come from individuals in the US. “Luckily, I live in Italy and not in the States,” he said, adding that he has received messages referring to him as a “sick pervert”.
While Galimberti shot the Gift Collection campaign featuring children posing with Balenciaga bears dressed in BDSM-inspired accessories, he was not invovled with the Spring 2023 campaign, which was shot by Joshua Bright, while the accessory images for the campaign were photographed by Chris Maggio.
Tuesday 29 November 2022 17:28 , Chelsea Ritschel
Photographer Gabriele Galimberti, who shot the Gift Collection campaign featuring children posing with plush toy bears, has also criticised the brand, as he claims that Balenciaga waited too long to clarify that the campaign was separate from the one which had included Supreme Court documents pertaining to child pornography.
“It was two different campaigns, two different photographers. The Supreme Court documents were not in the campaign with the children,” Galimberti said in an interview with WWD on Monday.
Tuesday 29 November 2022 17:06 , Chelsea Ritschel
As outrage over the campaigns continue, many have called for a boycott of Balenciaga, with the hashtag #CancelBalenciaga trending on social media platforms.
Additionally, some former customers have taken their responses a step further, with one Balenciaga fan cutting up clothing worth thousands from the luxury brand.
Chloe Hennessey, 27, filmed herself cutting up a Balenciaga hoodie that retails for approximately $720 (£600).
Everything you need to know about what’s going on at Balenciaga
Tuesday 29 November 2022 17:00 , Kate Ng
A lot has happened since Balenciaga launched its controversial campaign which featured children holding bondage teddy bears. We wouldn’t blame you if you were confused - so my colleague Meredith Clark has laid it all out.
Get all the details here:
Fashion Law Institute says Balenciaga’s lawsuit is ‘misplaced'
Tuesday 29 November 2022 16:30 , Kate Ng
After Balenciaga filed a lawsuit against production company North Six and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins for their disastrous campaign, an expert from the Fashion Law Institute in New York has said it was “misplaced”.
The luxury brand accused the companies, which they hired, of “extensive damages” after severe backlash from the campaign.
Susan Scafidi from the Fashion Law Institute told Diet Prada via email: “If Balenciaga were primarily interested in monetary compensation for the advertising disaster, it probably would have taken time to negotiate a quiet settlement.
“Instead, Balenciaga filed an immediate, media-worthy lawsuit in order to disavow the campaign in the strongest possible terms and offer the public a different pair of villains in the form of the production company and set designer.”
Tuesday 29 November 2022 16:04 , Chelsea Ritschel
Kanye West, who criticised celebrities over the weekend for not condemning Balenciaga’s now-infamous campaign, stepped out in Los Angeles wearing Balenciaga boots, but with the label covered with a sticker that read “YE24”.
On Sunday 27 November, West was photographed wearing an American flag-themed jacket, black jeans and the black rubber boots with “YE24” stickers on both sides.
It came after he claimed that the initial silence around the Balenciaga campaign “shows you all celebrities are controlled”.
West, who was dropped by Balenciaga as a collaborator earlier this year following anti-semitic comments he made on social media, told paparazzi: “You don’t see no celebrities talking about the Balenciaga situation. All of these celebrities out here, don’t let them influence you in any way, because they’re controlled by the people who really influence the world. They’re not serving God.”
Tuesday 29 November 2022 15:15 , Chelsea Ritschel
Amid internal and external investigations into what went wrong, Balenciaga said it has taking a number of actions, including “laying the groundwork with organisations that specialise in child protection and aim at ending child abuse and exploitation”.
You can read Balenciaga’s newest statement in full bellow.
Tuesday 29 November 2022 14:48 , Chelsea Ritschel
However, according to Balenciaga, the printout of a Supreme Court ruling on child pornography was included in the second campaign in question by “third parties that confirmed in writing that these props were fake office documents”.
“They turned out to be real legal papers most likely coming from the filming of a television drama,” Balenciaga alleged. “The inclusion of these unapproved documents was the result of reckless negligence for which Balenciaa has filed a complaint.”
You can read more about the lawsuit Balenciaga has filed against the production company below.
Tuesday 29 November 2022 14:44 , Chelsea Ritschel
According to the brand, the issues with the first campaign are the fault of Balenciaga, which noted that its plush bear bags “should not have been featured with children”.
“This was a wrong choice by Balenciaga, combined with our failure in assessing and validating images. The responsibility for this lies with Balenciaga alone,” the luxury fashion brand wrote.
Tuesday 29 November 2022 14:42 , Chelsea Ritschel
The continued backlash directed at the brand comes after Balenciaga issued a second statement regarding the controverisal campaigns on Monday 28 November.
In the social media statement, Balenciaga said the campaigns “reflect a series of grievous errors for which Balenciaga takes responsibility”.
OPINION: Balenciaga got exactly what it wanted
Tuesday 29 November 2022 14:34 , Kate Ng
Balenciaga may have apologised, but Victoria Richards thinks the fact that we are all talking about the brand is exactly what it wanted.
She writes: “If the old adage of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” is a truism, then never was it truer than right now.” Read her piece below:
Julia Fox stands up for women bearing brunt of backlash
Tuesday 29 November 2022 13:30 , Oliver O'Connell
On 28 November, the Uncut Gems actor shared her thoughts on the Balenciaga scandal in a TikTok video after fans asked her to weigh in on the photoshoot.
Meredith Clark reports on what she said.
Fans call out Nicole Kidman over silence on controversy
Tuesday 29 November 2022 13:00 , Oliver O'Connell
Chelsea Ritschel reports.
Voices: Kim Kardashian has finally said something we can all agree with
Tuesday 29 November 2022 11:45 , Peony Hirwani
Victoria Richards writes:
It’s not often that I find myself naturally aligned with Kim Kardashian. I mean: we are the same age, and... that’s it. One other similarity: we both have kids. Oh, and neither of us think that children should be used to promote fetish wear.
Author Gianno Caldwell condemns Balenciaga
Tuesday 29 November 2022 11:20 , Peony Hirwani
“This year, more than any year in recent history, we have to protect our children,” author Gianno Caldwell wrote on Twitter.
“What they learn in schools, what they see on TV and social media must be carefully monitored. The Balenciaga scandal is one of many examples of children’s innocence under attack.”
People are calling on banks to drop Balenciaga as client
Tuesday 29 November 2022 11:00 , Peony Hirwani
Many people are calling on banks to drop Balenciaga as their client.
Senate Candidate for Virginia’s 12th District, Tina Ramirez, wrote on Twitter: “Banks have dropped @KanyeWest and @DonaldJTrumpJr. They haven’t dropped Balenciaga yet.
“Woke corporations care more about censoring free speech than stopping child predators.”
Another person added: “Ye criticised the Jewish folks that run entertainment, so banks de-banked him and companies dropped billion-dollar deals with him. Have any banks dropped Balenciaga?”
Do the problems go back further?
Tuesday 29 November 2022 10:40 , Oliver O'Connell
Balenciaga is by no means the first fashion brand to find itself mired in controversy over a tasteless ad campaign, but journalist Lorraine King believes this is not their first offence.
She tweeted: “I wish they had been cancelled when they started trolling working class people. I’m glad they finally are now. Terrible company.”
The accompanying tweet included images of Balenciaga products based on shopping bags and safety gear.
Other examples from the luxury fashion house include a handbag modelled on a bag of potato chips:
And the “most expensive trash bag in the world”.
North Korean human rights activist Yeonmi Park speaks out about Balenciaga’s ad campaign
Tuesday 29 November 2022 09:52 , Peony Hirwani
North Korean human rights activist Yeonmi Park has spoken about Balenciaga’s new ad campaign.
“The hypocrisy of celebrities and the elite is beyond belief,” she wrote on Twitter on Monday (28 November). “If we cannot stand up for innocent children, what can we possibly stand up for?
“Normalisation on pedophilia must stop right here, right now!”
Fans are burning their Balenciaga merch
Tuesday 29 November 2022 09:32 , Peony Hirwani
Many fans are burning their Balenciaga merch across the world.
Bella Hadid reportedly distances herself from Balenciaga
Tuesday 29 November 2022 09:12 , Peony Hirwani
Supermodel Bella Hadid appears to have deleted photos of her wearing clothes from Balenciaga’s spring 2023 campaign from her Instagram amid criticism directed at the fashion brand over two of its recent campaigns.
Kim Kardashian called out for not cutting ties with Balenciaga
Tuesday 29 November 2022 08:52 , Peony Hirwani
This week, Kim Kardashian condemned Balenciaga for their new ad campaign.
In her statement, the Skims owner wrote that she’s “re-evaluating” her relationship with the brand.
However, many fans are condemning her for “not cutting ties immediately”.
Author Layah Heilpern wrote: “Kim Kardashian says she hasn’t decided whether she will cut ties with Balenciaga. Imagine being super rich and still choosing money instead of protecting children from paedophiles. And she’s a mother! It’s sick.”
Podcaster Candace Owens added: “I publicly asked Kim Kardashian to condemn Balenciaga for their pedophilic ad campaign thinking it would be easy for her to condemn child porn. Unfortunately, I was wrong. It took her six days to issue a pathetic statement in which she failed to part ways with the brand.”
Isabella Maria DeLuca wrote: “Kim Kardashian cut ties with the father of her children but not Balenciaga. Money really is the root of all evil.”